Mostly True Memoirs
Make People Laugh
Welcome to the world of comedy writing, where the power to make people laugh is both an art and a skill. Crafting jokes that make your audience laugh requires creativity, timing, and an understanding of different joke structures. In this post, we’ll explore the art of telling jokes, focusing on two essential techniques: the U-turn and the callback.
The U-Turn Joke
The U-turn joke is a classic comedy technique that involves leading the audience in one direction and then suddenly reversing their expectations for a humorous twist. This setup and punchline format sets up an assumption or scenario and then cleverly twists it to create humor.
Jerry Seinfeld is a master of U-turn jokes. In one of his stand-up routines, he starts with a relatable observation: “You know you’re getting old when you bend down to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.” The audience anticipates a list of tasks to do while bending down, but Seinfeld surprises them with the punchline: “Maybe I’ll check my pulse.”
Here, Seinfeld sets up a common situation (tying shoes) and then delivers an unexpected, funny response that defies the audience’s expectations.
Tips For Creating U-Turn Jokes
- Identify common situations or assumptions that people can relate to.
- Take the audience down a familiar path before making a sudden twist.
- Keep the punchline concise and unexpected.
The Callback Joke
The callback is a hilarious technique that references a previous joke or situation to create humor. It rewards attentive listeners who may recall an earlier part of the act, creating a sense of shared understanding and amusement.
Dave Chappelle is known for his adept use of callback jokes. In one of his routines, he talks about attending a party where the guests were overly friendly: “People were introducing themselves like, ‘Hey, I’m Sarah, I’m a Sagittarius, I enjoy reading mystery novels…'”
By referencing the earlier joke about the party, Chappelle creates a humorous connection and amplifies the laughter.
Tips For Creating Callback Jokes
- Introduce recurring elements or phrases throughout your act.
- Revisit previous jokes that received a positive response from the audience.
- Make sure the callback adds new dimensions to the original joke, making it funnier.
Comedy writing is an exhilarating journey that allows you to make people laugh, connecting with them on a deeper level. By mastering techniques like the U-turn and the callback, you can take your comedy writing to new heights and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Remember, successful comedy hinges on surprise, timing, and relatability. Whether you’re writing stand-up routines, sketches, or comedic stories, the key is to observe human behavior and find the humor in everyday situations.
To sum up, the U-turn joke leads the audience in one direction before sharply veering off into an unexpected twist, while the callback joke cleverly references previous material to create a sense of shared humor. Study the works of comedy legends like Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chappelle to learn from the best.
Go ahead and write some funny material. Never forget the power of humor to uplift, connect, and brighten the lives of others. Happy writing!
Everyone has a story to tell.